Growing Collards

Q: I planted my collards in the Spring of 2005 and cut them back in the Fall of 2005. These plants are still going strong. How many years can collard plants grow? Shall I cut them back to the stem again to keep them growing? Would it do any good?

Hardiness Zone: 8a

Thanking you in advance.
Holly from Dallas, TX

A: Holly,

Since is doesn't sound like you are looking to harvest the collards over the winter, I would keep cutting them back in the fall the same way you did last year. Collards are usually grown as annuals, but they can also be grown as biennials or perennials in warmer climates. They can survive temperatures to the upper 20s-even cooler if they are located in the right microclimate.

I've heard of them growing for several years before tiring out. Collards taste best during the cooler parts of the season, especially right after a light frost. This is because the plant responds to cooler temperatures by moving water from the leaves to the roots, which concentrates the sugars in the leaves and ultimately gives them a sweet flavor. You can get this same "sweet" flavor in the heat of the summer if you pop the whole plant (stems and all) into the freezer for about 10 minutes. You end up sacrificing the plant, but you get leaves with that post-frost sweet flavor.

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February 26, 20060 found this helpful

Hey Holly,

Just make sure you don't let them go to 'seed'.

It will make a flowering stem right out of the center and this will signal the plant to try to die. Just cut it back. It will also change the flavor of the collards ...not as good . I've had plants come back for several years in the garden even after being plowed under, they would grow sideways, crooked... lol... So keep it trimmed and you should keep getting leaves off of it for many years, at least. Hopefully more. And a frost makes them taste better, but be careful of a deep freeze. It may kill it. Just cover it like you would your other plants.

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March 3, 20060 found this helpful

My neighbor has some collards that have been growing for about 20 years and they are better tasting every year. Good luck...

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August 16, 20060 found this helpful

Yes, I have had the same results by repeatedly pinching off the flower stalks for many years now and it works great. The plant can become like a small tree often times with many plants sprouting from the same stalk. Quite unusual as a striking yet still productive curiosity.

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